IBM Unveils Server-Provisioning Software - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications

IBM Unveils Server-Provisioning Software

Intelligent Orchestrator lets business-technology managers convert their data center into an IT utility.

IBM introduced software Tuesday to build interest in the nascent utility computing market. IBM Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator marks the first time the company has promoted software to let business-technology managers convert a data center into an IT utility, where networking, server, storage, and other resources are allocated and re-allocated as needed.

In the past, IBM was more inclined to promote an outsourced utility model, where businesses would entrust IBM Global Services to perform the IT provisioning and charge customers based on monthly usage. More in keeping with the strategies promoted by Hewlett-Packard, with its Adaptive Enterprise offering, and Sun Microsystems, with its N1 approach, IBM now plans to offer software through Project Symphony to help customers run their own IT utilities.

IBM built Intelligent Orchestrator, the first piece of Project Symphony, using technology from its Think Dynamics acquisition. When Intelligent Orchestrator is available later this month, it will help companies automatically provision server workloads based upon network traffic and double server-utilization rates, says Sandy Carter, VP of marketing for IBM Tivoli. Intelligent Orchestrator's key feature is the way it lets IT departments control server provisioning by filling out templates that automate the process.

IBM will itself be a big user of Intelligent Orchestrator and subsequent Project Symphony software. The company has, for example, incorporated Intelligent Orchestrator into its outsourcing relationship with the United States Tennis Association. IBM has for the past dozen years provided IT infrastructure support for the USTA's U.S. Open tennis tournament, which this year runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 7. IBM is using dynamic server provisioning to help increase the speed with which it sends data to broadcasters, the press, and the U.S. Open's Web site. "We need IBM to do this," says Ezra Kucharz, managing director of USTA advanced media. "Hosting and serving capacity [during the U.S. Open] is 50 times more than we need at any other time of the year."

With its proposed Project Symphony strategy, IBM will have the management software needed to let customers centrally control IT resources, says Frank Gillett, a principal analyst with Forrester Research. Although HP has offered similar capabilities for a couple of years through its Utility Data Center, UDC's $1 million price tag is somewhat daunting. With a starting price of $20,000, Gillett says, Intelligent Orchestrator "can be used immediately to cut down spending on servers."

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